Café Deux Soleils is small coffee shop on Commercial Drive, one that seems perfectly normal on a Monday night at 6:00pm.

6:00pm was when we walked past for the first time and peered into the window; the café seemed pretty casual and actually very  empty, for that matter. A few hipster-like characters sat around drinking coffee or lattes or vegan cappuccinos (whatever hipsters are drinking these days), while a small raised stage sat in furthest wall. It didn’t seem that in less than an hour, it would be buzzing with activity, poetry enthusiasts and performers  milling around and making last-minute edits on note-pads, napkins, or any other writing materials they could get their hands on.

While all this was going, a mix of internal panic, apprehension and giddiness pumped through me. All around me were the poets who I so devotedly watched on YouTube night after night, and now, they we were going to watch me as soon as I stepped up to the mic.  After Jamie and I went through our two prepared poems outside the café a couple times, the show got on its way.

It goes something like this:

On the Youth Slam Night, or any other Monday of the month, 12 poets sign up to perform on the stage for up to 3 minutes. Members of the audience act as judges and rate their performances on a scale of 0.1-10.0, and the top 5 poets advance to the second round.

As the MC started going through all the nitty gritties of scoring and such, I was put at ease for a bit, pleasantly surprised with the buzz of positivity that filled the room. As the first couple of performers finished up, snaps of encouragement started up and the support of the audience was quite evident. Nevertheless, I could still hear my heart beating in my ears, and there another thought: WHY IS THE LIGHT SO BRIGHT?

That was about the point where I lost the feeling in my hands.

The three minutes flew by and the sparse snapping of the crowd was the only indicator that things were going well. I cannot even tell you now how it went at this point, but I will leave you to make your own opinion once the video gets posted on YouTube (hopefully in the next few days or so).  It all went on in a kind of haze, and I was surprised to see the scoring cards go up with scores of 9.5s and 9.7s, which meant that I was moving onto the second round, along with Jamie, who also had an AMAZING performance.

During the intermission between rounds, one of the performers came up to me and high fived me and my entire family, which was quite startling at first, but then I remembered that poets are kind of weird (in an awesome way, of course).  This was my first introduction with Jacob Gebrewold, whom I recognized from the mini belly dancing competition that occurred during a guest performance (yeah, he’s pretty cool). Apparently he, and quite a few of the other poets, was quite impressed by my and Jamie’s performances, despite the fact we were still considered ‘rookies’ and it was our first performance at the Vancouver Poetry Slam. We took this as an opportunity to ask Jacob if he was interested in mentoring us, and he said that he would be happy to, and that he is really interested in helping out young poets. I think he will be a great fit for Jamie and I, because he has participated in a lot of the poetry competitions that I am interested in performing in, and he is also mentoring a couple other young poets as well. He seems really excited to be a part of our project, and already gave us some poets to look up for our first meeting (which is also awesome).

ANYWAYS, after this very successful and uplifting intermission, I was one of the first performers to get up on the stage for a second time. This time, I was a little bit more comfortable behind the mic, and I felt that my delivery was a little smoother than my first poem. The scores for all of the five poets were all very high, and it was easy to see that it was going to be very close.

Jamie and I joined the other finalists on stage as they began announcing our places. Jamie won fourth place and I won first place! It was all very surreal as they handed me my thirty dollars (going towards my Cuba band trip, mind you), but I don’t think it really set in until around the next day.

Me the next day: WOOOOOOHHOOOOOOO!

So basically it was a very crazy and gratifying night and both Jamie and I were really excited to do so well for our first slam. Like I said, UNREAL. I earned 16 points to go towards qualifying for the Youth Grand Slam, but the season for earning points is almost over, so I’ll have to do REALLY well next month to try to get close to qualifying.

For now, though, I am mostly writing some new material for the next slam, as well looking through some of the performances that Jacob recommended. It doesn’t really stop. Writing, revising, writing, hating what you write, and then writing some more. Yay!

I will post the videos of Jamie and me as soon as they come out, but in the meantime, check out this tweet from the VPS: